TEENFEST SUCCESS STORIES
During the nine year history of TeenFest Foundation and TeenFest(ival) annual public health education events, numerous teens (some now young adults) have worked with the organization. Their participation and contributions have ranged from talent showcase contestants and Teen Council members to event volunteers and workshop facilitators.
One of TeenFest Foundation’s benchmarks of success is the fact that numerous youth tend to remain engaged with the organization even after they have “aged out” of our target demographic age range, 14 – 19. This is evidenced in the number of young adults that return each year to lend assistance to the annual TeenFest(ival) events and other activities. Our youth proudly list TeenFest Foundation on their college applications and resumes as substantiation of their volunteer work that directly impacts the community. But they are not just clocking community service hours, they are gaining leadership experience and learning marketable skills such as: public speaking, presentations, marketing, curriculum development, research and writing, video production, event management, organization development, nonprofit structure and more.
Au’Brie McKoy-Marshall, Master’s degree candidate, UNC-Greensboro. “I am currently pursuing my Master’s in Counseling, and one of my professional aspirations is to be a Counselor for a non-profit agency in a low-income community. Volunteering with TeenFest has given me a greater understanding of the work and effort required to maintain a non-profit organization, including the importance of volunteers and the importance of the skills required for grant writing. The knowledge I’ve gained about non-profit organizations through my experience with TeenFest (Foundation) has given me insight on how working within a non-profit agency may or may not affect my career.”
Matthew Grady, lead singer of M16 & the Full Moon Wolves band, auditioned and competed at TeenFest 2K7 and, although he did not win, has been part of the TeenFest family since then. Because of the positive feedback he received from working with TeenFest, he committed to creating and performing works that do not use derogatory or inflammatory language, degrade women, or promote drugs or violence. He also made positive changes in his lifestye. Matt speaks to youth about his decisions whenever he can, telling them that his commitment has made his ascent on the music scene more challenging, but he has grown as a writer and performer, and feels good about his art. Matt was featured in Black Radio Exclusive magazine because of his positive works, and while on tour with rap star JadaKiss, was the only act allowed to perform live on radio because he is known for positive lyrics. Matthew wrote the TeenFest and TeenFest TV theme songs, and has music available for download on iTunes.
Jafar Cooper, student at NCCU. “My role and responsibility has transformed over the years and I love that it has. By me showing commitment to TeenFest, I have gone from a volunteer who would help with any type of task, to a teen council member, and now a leader for the elementary workshop. I've always lived my life by not being influenced by alcohol, drugs, violence, or abuse so that is a major reason why TeenFest caught my attention years ago.”
Regina Stepney, student at NC State University. “As for TeenFest I can truly say that everyone involved activelypractices what they teach. The people involved have become my good family and friends and hold me accountable to living life in a positive way. Not only do we have programs throughout the year to get people involved but also we try and spread a positive message with whomever we come in contact with. I am proud to be a part of such a great group of people.”